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By Michael Henningsen

JUNE 1, 1998: 

Alibi Rating Scale:

!!!!! = Giant
!!!! = Green
!!! = Lizard
!! = Attacks
! = Matthew Broderick

Astrud Gilberto

Talkin' Verve

First, there's the title. It's lame. This hasn't stopped Verve from using it for an entire series of CD compilations aimed at (to quote their press kit) "the hipsters of Generation X, with their soul-searching deejays and hip-hop style." This is just embarrassing. Verve is the greatest label in the history of jazz; they don't need to pander.

Then there's the hideous graphics and the grammatically inept cover blurb proclaiming this music to be "just right for loungin.'" It also says to file this CD under "lounge," which means that apparently no one has told the folks at Verve that the lounge fad has been as dead as Paula Jones' credibility for about two years now.

And finally, there's John Corbett's misguided, openly contemptuous liner notes, which refer to the "quite dreadful" and "fascinatingly awful" music contained herein, after eight paragraphs of pointless armchair psychoanalysis of the album's subject. This pathetic attempt at "so bad it's good" pseudo-hipness is particularly galling because this music needs no apologies.

Gilberto's genius is revealed in the very first track, where she actually makes something interesting out of "Beginnings" by those lite-rock wankers Chicago. Gilberto also offers fascinating reinterpretations of some excellent songs: The Association's "Windy," Harry Nilsson's "Don't Leave Me Baby" and the Bee Gee's dirge-like "Holiday," which she turns into a dizzying roller coaster of starts, stops and hairpin turns. Her rendition of this song is a showcase for that dazzling voice, one minute as wispy and flyaway as a little girl's, the next cool and seductive.

The rest of the CD covers Gilberto's usual sambas and bossa novas, including songs that appear on most of her compilations: "Call Me," "Berimbau" and the immortal "Summer Samba (So Nice)," quite possibly the most perfect two-and-a-half minutes of music ever created, thanks in part to Walter Wanderley's astonishing Hammond organ work. This is the fourth compilation I've bought with these songs on them, and the 16 songs last just under 45 minutes, so it's not even value for the money. This is magnificent music, but as a compilation, Talkin' Verve is an inexcusably shoddy piece of shit. They should be ashamed. Therefore, two scores are in order: music--!!!! package--! (SM)

Various Artists

Godzilla: the Album

Too much of what passes for hip-hop in general these days has gone the way of the cookie cutter, so it's refreshing to hear Puff Daddy return to the days of blatant ripoffs with "Come With Me." Based on Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir," "Come With Me" features Puffy grumbling about persecution and other fun things while Jimmy Page meanders about on guitar over looped John Bonham drum tracks and samples from the original song. Sound corny? It kicks ass. But aside from the Puff Daddy track and Jamiroquai's funky retro stylings on "Deeper Underground," the Godzilla soundtrack is as inane as the film's premise.

It's about a giant lizard, for Christ's sake, so how deep or vital could the soundtrack possibly be? To that end, just to prove that they're hip enough to admit they're not interested in anything but marketable songs, the folks over at Epic decided to fill in the blanks with songs by Sony/Epic artists that do not appear at anytime during the film--Silverchair, Fuzzbubble, Michael Penn, Fuel, etc. The Foo Fighters' "A320" and Green Day's "Brain Stew (the Godzilla Remix)" sound horribly out of place sandwiched between songs by Michael Penn and Joey Deluxe. Actually, the remix of "Brain Stew" is just silly.

Only one song on the soundtrack (if you don't count the gratuitous opening titles and an interlude titled "Looking for Clues") has anything whatsoever to do with giant lizards, Matthew Broderick or mass destruction. Interestingly, it's Fuzzbubble's "Undercover," which isn't entirely a bad song about Godzilla itself. Of course, as mentioned above, that song doesn't appear in the flick. On an end note, the Wallflowers' version of "Heroes" sucks. No one should fuck with Bowie or Hank Williams. Props to Puffy, that's about it. !! (MH)

--Stewart Mason and Michael Henningsen

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